Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

‘IT'S ALL WORK AND HAPPINESS ON THE FARMS’: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT BETWEEN THE BLOCS IN NKRUMAH'S GHANA

  • KERI LAMBERT (a1)

Abstract

This study assesses the agricultural sector under the government of Kwame Nkrumah as a dynamic Cold War front. After Ghana's independence in 1957, Nkrumah asserted that the new nation would guard its sovereignty from foreign influence, while recognizing that it needed foreign cooperation and investment. His government embarked upon a development program with an emphasis on diversifying Ghana's agriculture to decrease her dependence on cocoa. Meanwhile, both the United States and the Soviet Union sought to establish footholds in Ghana through agricultural aid, trade, and investments. In the first years of independence, the Ghanaian state encouraged smallholder farming and American investment. Later, in a sudden change of policy, the government established large-scale state farms along the socialist model. This article brings to light the ways that Ghanaians in rural areas engaged with and interpreted the increasingly interventionist agriculture projects and policies of Nkrumah's government.

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All

Research for this article was supported by the Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship, with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I would like to thank Moses Andoh for his assistance conducting interviews, as well as Jeffrey Ahlman, Robert Harms, and Efe Igor for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Feedback received at the Greater New York African History Workshop and Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting, as well as from the anonymous reviewers of this journal, also strengthened this article. Author's email: keriglambert@gmail.com

Footnotes

References

Hide All

1 Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) – Accra, RG 17/1/120, ‘Questions and Answers Following Speech by Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana at the National Press Club Luncheon’, 24 Jul. 1958.

2 Beckman, B., ‘Ghana, 1951–78: The Agrarian Basis of the Postcolonial State,’ in Heyer, J., Roberts, P., and Williams, G. (eds.), Rural Development in Tropical Africa (New York, 1979).

3 The National Archives, London, United Kingdom (TNA), DO 35/6178, F. E. Cumming-Bruce, Office of Adviser to the Governor on External Affairs, Accra, ‘The Danger of Future Soviet Penetration in the Gold Coast’, 20 Jun. 1956.

4 TNA T 236/4463, ‘Nixon's Report on Africa Visit’, 8 Apr. 1957. Muehlenbeck, P., Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy's Courting of African Nationalist Leaders (Oxford, 2012).

5 TNA DO 35/8657, telegram 34, UK High Commissioner, Accra, to Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) and Foreign Office (FO), 14 Mar. 1957.

6 Cullather, N., The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia (Cambridge, 2010); McNeill, J., Unger, C., eds., Environmental Histories of the Cold War (Cambridge, 2010); Robertson, T., ‘Cold War Landscapes: Towards an Environmental History of US Development Programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,’ Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 417–41.

7 Hyden, G., Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured Peasantry (London, 1980); Lal, P., African Socialism in Postcolonial Tanzania: Between the Village and the World (Cambridge, 2015); Schneider, L., Government of Development: Peasants and Politicians in Postcolonial Tanzania (Bloomington, IN, 2014).

8 Likaka, O., Rural Society and Cotton in Colonial Zaire (Madison, 1997); Beusekom, M. van, Negotiating Development: African Farmers and Colonial Experts, 1920–1960 (Portsmouth, 2001).

9 Lal, African Socialism, 10–15.

10 Aerni-Flessner, J., ‘Self-Help Development Projects and Conceptions of Independence in Lesotho, 1950s–70s,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies 50:1 (2017): 1133.

11 Akyeampong, E., Between the Sea and the Lagoon: An Eco-Social History of the Anlo of Southeastern Ghana c. 1950 to Recent Times (Athens, OH, 2002), 159–85; Tsikata, D., Living in the Shadow of the Large Dams: Long Term Responses of Downstream and Communities of Ghana's Volta River Project (Accra, 2012); Miescher, S., ‘“Nkrumah's Baby”: The Akosombo Dam and the Dream of Development in Ghana,’ Water History 6:4 (2014), 341–66.

12 Ahlman, J., Living with Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana (Athens, OH, 2017).

13 Wiemers, A., ‘“When the Chief Takes an Interest”: Development and the Reinvention of “Communal” Labor in Northern Ghana, 1935–60,’ The Journal of African History 58:2 (2017): 239–57.

14 Miracle, M. and Seidman, A., ‘State Farms in Ghana,’ Land Tenure Center 43 (Madison, 1968); J. A. Dadson, ‘Socialized Agriculture in Ghana’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1970); Beckman, B., Organizing the Farmers: Cocoa Politics and National Development in Ghana (Uppsala, 1976); B. Beckman, ‘Ghana, 1951–78.’

15 For more on the hold-up, see Alence, R., ‘Colonial Government, Social Conflict, and State Involvement in Africa's Open Economies: The Origins of the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board, 1939–46,’ The Journal of African History 42:3 (2001): 397416.

16 PRAAD-Accra RG 5/3/63, A. Watson, ‘Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Disturbances in the Gold Coast,’ 1948, 57–8.

17 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/2/237, ‘Report of Sub-Committee No. 8 on Industrial, Commercial, and Electrical Development, Including Mining,’ 1949.

18 Seidman, A., Ghana's Development Experience 1951–65 (Nairobi, 1978), 146199; Beckman, ‘Ghana, 1951–78,’ 145–7.

19 Dickson, K. B., ‘Development of the Copra Industry in Ghana,’ Journal of Tropical Geography 19 (1964): 2734.

20 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/130, ‘An Interim Report by the Advisory Committee on Agriculture, On Agricultural Production in the Gold Coast,’ Feb. 1957, with minutes from meetings in Oct. 1956 and Jan. 1957. ‘Oil palm’ refers to the tree crop that is cultivated, whereas ‘palm oil’ is the commodity that these trees produce.

21 PRAAD-Accra, RG 7/1/38, letters from rubber farmers, for example E. Frimpong to Commissioner of Commerce, 14 Mar. 1955, and Y. Boahene to J. Jantuah, Ministry of Agriculture, 1 May 1956.

22 Boni, S., ‘Striving for Resources or Connecting People? Transportation in Sefwi (Ghana)’, The International Journal of African Historical Studies 32:1 (1999), 67.

23 Beckman, ‘Ghana, 1951–78,’ 146–7.

24 Princeton University Seeley Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton, New Jersey (SMML), MC092 W. A. Lewis Papers: Country Files / Ghana (formerly Gold Coast), Box 20, Folder 4, ‘Report on Industrialization and the Gold Coast’, 1953 and ‘On Assessing a Development Plan’, Jul. 1959.

25 PRAAD-Accra ADM 7/5/87, ‘First Development Plan — Expenditures’; Seidman, Ghana's Development Experience, 158.

26 Beckman, ‘Ghana, 1951–78,’ 146.

27 TNA DO 35/6178, Cumming-Bruce, ‘The Danger of Future Soviet Penetration in the Gold Coast’, 20 Jun. 1956.

28 TNA DO 35/6178, telegram, Cumming-Bruce to G. Laithwaite, CRO, 21 Jul. 1956.

29 M. Montgomery, ‘The Eyes of the World Were Watching: Ghana, Great Britain, and the United States, 1957–1966’ (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Maryland, 2004), 19–27, 34.

30 TNA-UK, T 236/4463, ‘Nixon's Report on Visit to Africa’, 14 Mar. 1957.

31 Montgomery, ‘The Eyes’, 63–7.

32 TNA DO 35/8657, telegram, UK High Commission, Accra, to CRO and FO, London, 14 Mar. 1957.

33 PRAAD-Accra RG 17/1/73, correspondence between Lewis and Nkrumah, 1957. For an account of Lewis's relationship with Nkrumah, which became increasingly strained until Lewis resigned and left Ghana in December 1958, see Tignor, R., W. Arthur Lewis and the Birth of Development Economics (Princeton, 2005), 109–78.

34 SMML, MC092, Box 20, Folder 4, ‘Aspects of Development,’ lectures by Lewis, 1958.

35 SMML, MC092, Box 20, Folder 5, ‘Diversifying Ghana's Agriculture,’ 26 Mar. 1958.

36 PRAAD-Accra ADM 7/5/88, speech by Nkrumah in Parliament, 4 Mar. 1959.

37 National Archives and Records Administration II, College Park, Maryland (NARA) RG 469, Entry P250, Container 4, Folder: Commodities — Rubber, correspondences between A. Moffat, L. Reeves and E. Taylor, Jul. 1958.

38 Robertson, ‘Cold War Landscapes’, 421–2.

39 TNA DO 166/40, report for the Dominions Office describing UK Technical Aid, 20 Jun. 1963.

40 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/88, ‘Progress During 1961 — Foreign Technical Aid to Ghana’, 1962.

41 PRAAD-Accra ADM 7/5/88, speech by Nkrumah in Parliament, 4 Mar. 1959.

42 TNA DO 35/9346, Savingram 61 from Accra to CRO, ‘East/West Relations and Ghana’, 10 Jun. 1960.

43 NARA RG 469, Entry P 250, Container 4, Folder: Commodities — Rubber, letters exchanged between Reeves and Moffat, 1959.

44 NARA RG 286, Entry P346, Container 1, Folder: Commodities: Rubber FY-61, ‘Large Scale Cooperative Farms’, 30 Jul. 1960.

45 World cocoa prices dropped from £358 per ton in 1958 to £177 in 1961; NARA RG 59, Entry A1 3112A, Container 1, Folder: Despatches, ‘Ghana: Guidelines for United States Policy and Operations (Comments and Original),’ 7 Mar. 1963.

46 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/188, Ministry of Agriculture, ‘Miscellaneous Information, 1961–1962’.

47 PRAAD-Accra, RG 17/1/211, Nkrumah to Khrushchev, 6 Jun. 1960.

48 TNA DO 35/8657, G. Marshall, Office of the UK High Commissioner, Accra, to V. Davies, Esq., CRO, 16 Sep. 1960.

49 ‘Exchange of Visits Between Ghana and USSR Will Bring Closer Relations’, ‘How [the] Soviet Union Became an Industrial Power’, and ‘The Success of USSR Agriculture’, Evening News, 7 Nov. 1960.

50 TNA DO 198/6, CRO, ‘Ghana: Achieving A Balance Between East and West’, 18 Mar. 1961.

51 TNA OD 20/171, Acting British Commissioner, ‘Technical Assistance from Britain’, 12 Jan. 1962.

52 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/99, ‘Meeting Held to Discuss Russian Agricultural Machinery’, 22 Jan. 1962.

53 TNA FO 1110/1697, ‘Dissatisfaction with Communist Aid and Services’, 8 Apr. 1963.

54 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, ‘Meeting Held to Discuss the Establishment of State Farms’, 15 Feb. 1962.

55 PRAAD-Accra ADM 14/2/115, Parliamentary Debates, 2–23 Oct. 1962, col. 323–4, 55, and 79.

56 Ibid. col. 337–45, 378–9, 384–6.

57 PRAAD-Accra RG 7/1/617, ‘Meeting Held with Soviet Specialists on Rubber’, 1 Feb. 1962.

58 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, ‘Meeting Held to Discuss the Establishment of State Farms’, 15 Feb. 1962.

59 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/84, ‘Meeting Held to Discuss the Establishment of State Farms’, 15 Mar. 1962.

60 TNA FO 1110/1697, ‘Dissatisfaction with Communist Aid and Services’, 8 Apr. 1963.

61 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/84, ‘Meeting To Discuss the Cost of State Farms’, 27 Feb. 1962.

62 PRAAD-Accra RG 4/1/84, ‘Report of Sub-Committee Appointed by the Minister of Agriculture to Review the Cost Estimates of the Establishment of State Farms’, 1962.

63 TNA FO 1110/1697, ‘Dissatisfaction with Communist Aid and Services’, 8 Apr. 1963

64 ‘State Farms Output will Eliminate Food Imports!’ Evening News, 24 Apr. 1963.

65 Ibid.

66 PRAAD-Accra, RG 8/2/438, ‘Second Annual Report, Ghana SFC, 1963–64’.

67 ‘State Farms Output’, Evening News, 24 Apr. 1963. For a broader discussion of the CPP's promotion of socialist work, see Ahlman, Living with Nkrumahism, 115–47.

68 NARA RG 59, Entry A1 3112A, Container 1, Folder: Despatches, ‘Confidential: Ghana’, 8 Jun. 1962.

69 NARA RG 59, Entry A1 3112A, Container 1, Folder: Visits and Meetings, ‘American Foreign Policy (Ghana),’ n.d. [1962?]

70 NARA RG 286, Entry P 349, Container 8, Folder: Rubber, W.-G.-S. Aggrey, Agricultural Officer, to F. Pinder, US Operations Mission/Ghana, 29 Aug. 1962.

71 NARA RG 59, Entry A1 3112A, Container 1, Folder: Visits and Meetings, ‘Confidential: Briefing Paper, Governor Williams's African Trip’, 22–26 Jun. 1963.

72 NARA RG 59, Entry A1 3112A, Container 1, Folder: Visits and Meetings, ‘American Foreign Policy (Ghana)’, nd. [c. 1962].

73 PRAAD-Accra ADM 7/5/89, ‘Seven Year Development Plan, 1963–1970’, x, xv, and 75.

74 PRAAD-Sekondi WRG 38/1/99, letters to district commissioner, Half Assini, Jul. 1964.

75 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, ‘Establishment of State Farm at Namasa’, 16 Jul. 1964.

76 PRAAD-Koforidua ADM.KD 22/6/519, ‘Granting of Abonse Stool Land For State Farm Corporation’, to commissioner, Eastern Region, 25 Sep. 1962.

77 PRAAD-Accra RG 8/2/438, ‘Second Annual Report, Ghana SFC, 1963–64’.

78 PRAAD-Sekondi WRG 38/1/66, J. E. K. Dickson to district commissioner, Half Assini, Jul. 1964.

79 Interview with Nana Kwesi Agyeman IX, Lower Dixcove, 30 Oct. 2017.

80 Interview with Moses Kudjoe, Abura, 17 Jul. 2015; interview with Esta Ofori, Mpatase, 21 Jul. 2015.

81 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, N. K. Kesi, Kojokesekrom, to district commissioner, Dormaa, 26 Nov. 1962.

82 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, N. A. Sasraku II, Ankobia, to commissioner, Brong Ahafo Region, 18 Jun. 1964.

83 PRAAD-Cape Coast RG 1/5/49; PRAAD-Koforidua ADM.KD 22/6/519.

84 See Ahlman, Living with Nkrumahism, 184–7.

85 PRAAD-Koforidua ADM.KD 22/6/519, L. Aboagye, et al., Akropong-Akwapim, to the Director of State Farms, Accra, 23 Dec. 1964.

86 PRAAD-Accra RG 8/2/1244, ‘State Lands Act (Act 125) of 1962.’

87 Interview with James Donkor, Adjumako, 15 Mar. 2017; Interview with Esta Ofori.

88 Interview with Joseph Kayans, Takoradi, 21 Jul. 2015.

89 PRAAD-Sunyani, BRG 1/1/38, ‘Annual Report 1967–68’.

90 Dadson, ‘Socialized Agriculture in Ghana’, 167, 265.

91 PRAAD-Cape Coast RG 1/5/49, ‘Monthly Progress Report’, Jun. 1967.

92 PRAAD-Accra RG 8/2/438, ‘Second Annual Report, Ghana SFC, 1963–4’.

93 PRAAD-Cape Coast RG 1/5/49, ‘Monthly Progress Report’, Jun. 1967.

94 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, R. O. Amoako-Atta, commissioner, Brong Ahafo Region, to Nkrumah, 5 Mar. 1965.

95 PRAAD-Accra RG 8/2/438, ‘Second Annual Report, Ghana SFC, 1963–64’.

96 Interview with Comfort Tom, Agona Nkwanta, 17 Oct. 2017.

97 Interview with John Niako, Essaman, 24 Jul. 2015.

98 Interview with Abena Owusu, Adiewoso, 14 Mar. 2017.

99 Interview with George Baidoo, Bokoroh, 8 Nov. 2017.

100 SFC originally mandated 7AM–3PM workdays, but it switched to a ‘piece-work’ system to halt alleged laziness. PRAAD-Accra RG 8/2/438, ‘Second Annual Report, Ghana SFC, 1963–64’.

101 PRAAD-Sekondi WRG 24/2/505, R. H. van Drooge, SFC Manager, to Western Region Administrator.

102 Interview with Grace Cobbinah, Nkwanta, 3 Apr. 2017.

103 Interview with Esta Dofor, Gyebunkrum, 21 Jul. 2015; interview with Elizabeth Atta, Mpatasi, 4 Sep. 2017.

104 Interview with Mary Yeboah, Nkwanta, 3 Apr. 2017.

105 Interview with Comfort Tom.

106 Interview with George Baidoo.

107 Interview with Esther Kwaw, Ewusiejoe, 1 Nov. 2017; interview with Emmanuel Nketsia, Anibel, 17 May 2017.

108 Interview with Nana Duku II, Kedadwin, 7 Apr. 2017; interview with Kwesi Duku, John Akyeampong, and Yaa Mensah, Nsuaem, 24 Jul. 2015.

109 ‘State Farms Output,’ Evening News, 24 Apr. 1963.

110 Interview with Nana Kwesi Agyeman IX, Lower Dixcove, 30 Oct. 2017; see also ‘Chiefs Scramble for GREL Lands,’ Ghanaian Chronicle, 29 Jan. 2014.

111 PRAAD-Sunyani BRG 1/1/38, ‘Annual Report, 1967–68 SFC.’

112 Hutchful, E., The IMF and Ghana: The Confidential Record (London, 1988).

113 PRAAD-Cape Coast RG 1/5/49, Odikro of Gomoa-Simbrofo, et. al, to J. A. Ankrah, 22 Sep. 1966.

114 PRAAD-Sekondi WRG 24/2/505, Ohene of Nsuaem, et. al. to Ankrah, 8 Jun. 1968.

115 PRAAD-Sekondi WRG 24/2/505, letter from Secretary of the Chief of Apowa-Yarbiw, 4 May 1966.

116 ‘Release Lands, Corp Told,’ Daily Graphic, 29 Jul. 1966; ‘State Farms are a Waste’, Daily Graphic, 26 Jul. 1966.

117 PRAAD-Sekondi WRG 24/2/505, speech by Ankrah, 14 Mar. 1968.

118 PRAAD-Koforidua ERG 1/3/31, SFC progress reports, 1968–9; PRAAD-Cape Coast RG 1/5/49, petitions and reports regarding SFC at Essarkyir, 1966–73.

Research for this article was supported by the Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship, with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I would like to thank Moses Andoh for his assistance conducting interviews, as well as Jeffrey Ahlman, Robert Harms, and Efe Igor for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Feedback received at the Greater New York African History Workshop and Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting, as well as from the anonymous reviewers of this journal, also strengthened this article. Author's email:

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed